Fact or Fiction? “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If you said fact, you aren’t alone in your views. Many people believe that a new skill, like a second language or musical instrument, is impossible to master at an advanced age. You may even think older people physically can’t learn new things. Perhaps you believe that increased forgetfulness is a clear sign of impending dementia.
True or False? Someone can’t learn a new skill because they are forgetful? Older people are doomed to the same brain they were born with? If seniors didn’t learn Mandarin when they were young, they can’t learn it now?
The good news is, senior citizens can learn new things very well. In fact, experts suggest that seniors take a proactive role in their brain’s health and new skills can stimulate cognitive ability. Learning something new is good for your overall brain health. Moreover, learning something new is an exciting adventure. It is good to have a hobby to keep the smile on your face.
The brain forms new knowledge with plasticity (or flexibility.) Advances in scientific understanding disprove the concept that older people have less plasticity in the brain. The hypothesis has always been that older brains are deficient with this kind of plasticity. The belief was that, for older brains, learning was over and decline the only thing the future has in store. This is untrue!
At Brown University, research uncovered that senior citizens can learn new things very well. Plasticity does occur, meaning that you can, in fact, “teach an old dog new tricks.”(learning-mind.com)
One study, from the University of Toronto, shows that senior citizens learn new things in other ways. Researchers discovered that older people make up for cognitive deterioration by using different areas of the brain to perform the same 'thinking tasks' as they did when they were young. They do this by engaging unique parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. (sciencedaily.com)
Elderly people can learn almost anything that interests them! Maybe they have dreamed of playing the piano, but life stood in the way. Perhaps they’ve always wanted to write a book but couldn’t find the nerve. Possibly they are an aspiring painter. The point is: never give up!
Dale Turner may have said it best. “Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born” (Dale Turner, Author).
Are you a senior who doesn’t want to give up on a dream? Do you know a senior who could use a little more help? Call today to learn more about the senior care we provide around Northwest Indiana! We provide things like transportation and companionship, perhaps one of our senior caregivers could assist a senior learn something new by driving them to lessons. Call 1-219-228-2299 for more information.